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Archive for the ‘Worm Compost’ Category

I finally found the happy medium for my worm compost with just a few minor adjustments:

Juice. I put the container on a slope, which was easily achieved with some concrete bricks that were around the house. Now the slope is directing all of the valuable worm juice right into the bowl. I can easily add this juice to the watering can, and give my veggies an extra boost of nutrients.

Shade. Next, I covered the box in order to water the compost less frequently. Also, I put some leaves on top of the compost to help maintain humidity, just like in nature.

Flies. In order to keep away the flies, I  add a bit of soil on top of recently added food scraps.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Check out the failures of worm compost that brought me here: Worm Compost: Part I, Part II, Part III.

PS: The second photo is from a Rancho Acuario. The new home of Benny, the kitty, and also a home to many great eco-technologies and organic veggies.

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The idea is to add food in sections so the worms follow the food through the maze. Once they make it to the end, you have your rich humus.

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So I never had seemed to get around to finding an efficient way to top off the worm compost buckets. The plastic lid didn’t let it breathe, hard mesh is not easy to work with, and I ran out of creative alternatives. Since the lid was on and off every other evening (an experiment of sorts), it didn’t take long for those pesky little fruit flies to arrive, much to my annoyance.

Now each time I added more veggie scraps to the compost, I had to slowly lift the lid and prep myself to be swarmed by the fruit flies. I read about putting some wine in a jar to lure the fruit flies into a drunken death. I tried that. Fail. I read about offering the frit flies some apple cider vinegar as well. I tried that. Fail. So, on one windy day, I decided to bring the fruit flies onto the roof and wait for the swift desert wind to carry them away.

They decided to just go ahead and hunker down in the buckets instead. They were cozy. They had found a new home, and they liked it. One week led to another, and the fruit fries remained banished to the roof. I bought some soft mesh to top off the buckets, but if I added that now, wouldn’t I just be encapsulating the already large population of fruit flies into the bucket? What to do, what to do? I began to pack for my week of training in Querétaro, and hoped that some of the other Environmental Education volunteers would have some ideas.

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: Check out the other posts that brought me to this point. Worm Compost: Part IWorm Compost Part II.

PPS: I’m not giving up! I’m just experimenting, finding what works, what doesn’t.

Worm Compost

A potential new plan in the works: The women in the community of Capula have these fully-functional worm compost systems in large plastic boxes, and I just purchased one to see where it leads me. More surface area = better aeration?

Worm Juice Collection

They put the worm compost box on a slant to collect the worm juice that pools on the lid.

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For the past two weeks my home worm compost system has been up and running, and I couldn’t be happier with the results from this super simple DIY project. In the post, Worm Compost: Part I, I had all the materials needed for the system, two large paint-bucket type containers, a drill, and worms. To continue, I stacked the bucket with drilled holes (see picture) into the other bucket. Next, I added my worms with a bit of newspaper and cardboard bedding and some fermented sheep manure. Finally, I topped it off with the bucket covers. Now, while cooking, I add my veggie scraps to feed my happy worms. It’s that simple.

Some more tips…

DO take note of your ratio of  “greens” and “browns.” Greens consist of such things as kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, plant waste, tea leaves and bags and veggie peels and cores. “Browns” include shredded newspaper, egg cartons and cardboard. You want a pretty even ratio of “greens” and “browns.”  If you see your compost is too watery, add some “browns.”

DO chop up large pieces of fruits and vegetables for faster breakdown. The worms actually eat the bacteria and fungi in decomposing food, so the older the food and the more exposed to air, the faster the worms will get to it.

DO harvest the worm juice at the bottom of the bucket for foliar application. This is the reason for those holes in the stacked bucket! The juice is invaluable as a natural pest repellent and fertilizer. Water down the juice with a 15:1 ratio of water:juice.

DO aerate the compost every few days using a wooden spoon or a stick to turn the materials.

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DON’T add kitchen scraps cooked with oil or with high amounts of salt.

DON’T add meat, dairy products, or highly acidic products. I don’t even like adding orange or lemon peels. Garlic and onions also don’t typically appeal to the worms, and can stink up the containers.

DON’T feed fresh manure to your worms. The heat from uncomposted animal manure can burn the worms. Also, only use manure from vegetarian animals – cows, sheep, rabbits, etc.

Some more facts about the wrigglers…

* Worm compost is very concentrated (1 ton of worm castings is equivalent to 10 tons of animal manure)

* The land that is passed by worms has 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more potassium, and double the amount of calcium and magnesium.

* The worms can live up to 16 years

* Worms double their population every 40 days

the twigster,

Josephine

PS: In order to limit fruit flies in my worm compost, I dry my banana peels in the sun before adding them to the bin. Fruit flies LOVE to lay their eggs in banana peels. If you’re not living in the desert like this girl, you can also give the peels a quick rinse before adding them to the compost.

Contained Compost System

Worm Juice Flow

Make your holes smaller than I did. I had some worm escapees.

Spot the Worms

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